Leith works good but too slow

The section of the Water of Leith, near the University of Otago clocktower building, where flood...
The section of the Water of Leith, near the University of Otago clocktower building, where flood protection work is yet to be completed. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The University of Otago is happy with the Water of Leith flood protection work but not with how the project has dragged out past finish dates.

When the Otago Regional Council started construction in January, it said the $5.5 million schedule of work was due to be completed by the end of May, but contractors overshot that deadline and remain at the university campus trying to complete finishing touches.

At yesterday's university capital development committee scheme, property services director Barry MacKay said the council kept ''slipping and slipping'' when it came to actually completing the work.

The university had made it clear it wanted the project finished in time for graduation on December 6.

''We are putting huge pressure on them to be off site by graduation,'' Mr MacKay said.

Chief operating officer John Patrick was happy with the work's quality, but not with how long it had taken.

''We did say that we wanted quality before quickness really, but they are very slow,'' Mr Patrick said.

Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said it was looking ''absolutely beautiful'', but hoped the fence would be taken down so people could take photos at graduation.

Council engineering, natural hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said the delays were beyond the council's control and included the unforeseen need to build a temporary footbridge while the St David St bridge was out of action.

High river levels, fewer daylight hours in autumn and winter and unexpected technical issues caused delays, Dr Palmer said.

''We apologise for inconvenience, but we have at all times worked to minimise disruption ... and worked as quickly as practicable. ... it's very important that the work be undertaken safely and we do a quality job.''

The work would be nearly complete by graduation.

''There is just some minor finishing work happening and come that day there will be some minor hand-railing around the St David St footbridge and some other little bits and pieces.''

The council's relationship remained good with the university, he said.

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